Third Phase Of Lok Sabha Election Today, BJP Defends Big Score From 2019

The third phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha election begins this morning with voting for 93 seats across 12 states, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat and the Hindi heartland belt of Madhya Pradesh, UP, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh.

May 7, 2024 - 04:00
Third Phase Of Lok Sabha Election Today, BJP Defends Big Score From 2019

The third phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha election begins this morning with voting for 93 seats across 12 states and union territories, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat and the Hindi heartland belt of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh. Assam, Bengal, Goa, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, and the UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, and Jammu and Kashmir, complete the list for this phase.

Voting has been called off in south Gujarat's Surat after the Congress' pick, Nilesh Kumbhani, was rejected over alleged discrepancies in the signatures of proposers. Mr Kumbhani later went missing for a while amid rumours he was set to join the ruling BJP.

The BJP's Mukesh Dalal was declared elected by default - amid a still-simmering storm - after eight other candidates, including seven independents, withdrew from the race.

Surat, therefore, became the first seat to be declared (and won by the BJP) in this election. Since then, similar drama in Madhya Pradesh's Indore has made it BJP 2 - 0 Congress.

Of the 93 seats in this phase for which opposition candidates remain, 25 (not including Surat) are from Gujarat. The BJP won all 26 in 2019. 14 of Karnataka's 28 seats will vote in this phase and the BJP also won all of them, as it did the nine of Madhya Pradesh's 29 seats that vote today. In fact, the saffron party won a staggering 80 of these 93 seats last time. 

Retaining most, if not all, of these seats will be key for the BJP's 'abki baar, 400 paar' goal. 

The opposition INDIA bloc, led by the Congress, won only 11 of these seats last time, with the other two - Assam and Dadra and Nagar Haveli - electing independent lawmakers.

Among the big names standing in this phase are Union Home Minister Amit Shah and his cabinet colleagues Jyotiraditya Scindia (Civil Aviation) and Pralhad Joshi (Parliamentary Affairs), and Purushottam Rupala, who is the junior Dairy and Fisheries Minister. 

Mr Shah will defend his Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat. The seat was the bastion of former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, who held it from 1998 till 2019. The Congress hasn't won the Gujarat capital since GI Patel's win way back in 1984.

Mr Scindia will look to win back (and defend) his family stronghold of Guna in Madhya Pradesh. He held the seat for 12 years as a member of the Congress but lost it to the BJP's Krishna Pal Yadav in the 2019 election, a year before he jumped ship to the saffron party.

Mr Joshi will look to win his Dharwad seat in Karnataka for a fourth consecutive time. The 14 Karnataka seats voting today are from the BJP's strongholds in the northern part of the southern state. Two other significant seats from these 14 are Shimoga and Haveri.

Shimoga is the family turf of former Chief Minister BS Yedyiyurappa. The BJP has fielded his son and sitting MP BY Raghavendra, which upset senior leader KS Eshwarappa, who will contest as an independent after being expelled from the party. The other seat - Haveri - will see another former Karnataka Chief Minister - Basavaraj Bommai - contesting.

Mr Rupala, meanwhile, is contesting the Rajkot seat in Gujarat, another BJP bastion.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan - who is widely seen as having engineered the BJP's win in the November state election but was passed over for another term in the top post - is also contesting. He stands from his family seat of Vidisha.

From the opposition's ranks, another former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, will contest the Rajgarh seat. This was won by the BJP in the past two elections, but Mr Singh won this seat twice before that - in 1984 and 1991.

Nationalist Congress Party - Sharadchandra Pawar leader Supriya Sule, who is party patriarch Sharad Pawar's daughter - will stand from the prestigious Baramati seat, which voted for her father six times previously and made her an MP in 2009, 2014, and 2019.

The big headline here is Ms Sule's contest against Sunetra Pawar, the wife of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Mr Pawar - Sharad Pawar's nephew and Supriya Sule's cousin - led a rebellion within the formerly undivided NCP, siding with the BJP and triggering a messy split.

In the continuing battle to go one-up on his uncle, Ajit Pawar has his eye set on Baramati. 

The BJP is desperate to win too; victory here will be a statement of intent against the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, of which Sharad Pawar's NCP faction is a part. It will also boost the 'mission 45' goal, which is to win 45 of the state's 48 Lok Sabha seats.

Of the 10 Uttar Pradesh seats polling in this round, one is Mainpuri, which is a family stronghold of Samajwadi Party boss Akhilesh Yadav. Mr Yadav's wife, Dimple Yadav, is the sitting MP after winning a 2022 bypoll due to the death of SP patriarch Mulayam Yadav.

This phase is a key one for the Yadav family, with Akshay Yadav (Akhilesh Yadav's cousin) and Aditya Yadav (Shivpal Yadav's son) contesting Firozabad and Budaun, respectively.

Mainpuri isn't the only big seat from UP in this phase; Hathras, a reserved seat in an area that has seen shocking crimes against women in the past several years, and Agra are also voting. Both are BJP strongholds. Fatehpur Sikri - a BJP seat since 2009 - is also voting.

Eleven of Maharashtra's 48 seats - the most of any state after UP's 80 - vote today, including, of course, Baramati. The other 10 include the reserved seats of Latur and Solapur, as well as Sangli and Kolhapur.

High-profile seats from other states include Murshidabad and Jangipur from Bengal, both of which were won by the ruling Trinamool. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party is, on paper, part of the Congress-led INDIA bloc, but it is contesting all 42 seats against both its allies and the BJP, which has been steadily gaining ground in the eastern state. 

From Bengal, Maldaha Uttar and Dakshin are also voting today. These are held by the BJP and Congress. The latter was only of two seats the Congress won in the 2019 election.

In Bihar - which was swept by the BJP and its allies, the ruling JDU and the LJP, in the last election - there are five seats voting. All five were claimed by the BJP-led NDA last time.

Chhattisgarh's seven remaining seats also vote today, as do both South and North Goa (the BJP's Pallavi Dempo stands from the former) and the lone seat from Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

There are still four phases of the general election to come, with the fourth on May 13, fifth on May 20, sixth on May 25, and seventh on June 1. The results will be declared on June 4.

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